The last time we checked in with Germany’s own Martin Miller Session Band, they dropped a lovely cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, one that balanced all the bits you know by heart with enough of their own identity to make it jump off your YouTube screen.
Now they’re back with a new session in the age of COVID–hence a few of them wearing masks–to run through a tight 26 minutes of 1980s songs in a medley that will have your toes a’tappin’.
Now, the selection does tend toward the rock side, but the Miller Session band are set up that way, with a solid rhythm section in drummer Felix Lehrmann and Benni Jud on bass. Lehrmann certainly played *more* drums than the minimalist Nick Mason on their Pink Floyd tribute–the YouTube comments called him out a bit too much on that–but here it’s all good. If anything some of the ‘80s hits had a bit too much programmed drums, and they liven up the experience. The special guest this time is Michal Skulski, playing sax on “Sledgehammer”.
Of course, your mileage may vary with this playlist, as there are songs here that I dearly love (“Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Enjoy the Silence”) and ones that I could live without (“The Final Countdown, “Eye of the Tiger”), and that’s all about taste, whether you went to high school in the 1980s, or were born during it, and your repeated exposure ad nauseum to these tunes. You might be glad about the bits they leave in, or disgruntled over the sections they leave out (Miller improvs his own solo to the Tears for Fears song, but if you ask me, that original solo by Roland Orzabal and then Neil Taylor is one of the best from that entire decade, and ‘80s pop really didn’t *have* guitar solos).
But any band that decides to have a go at “Take On Me” better have those octave jumping pipes. Miller, I’m glad to say, does, channeling his inner Ronnie Dio to do so. And Marius Leicht’s organ solo is actually an improvement on the original.
However, I must point out that the finale, Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” is not an ‘80s song. As any Mode fan will tell you, the single came out in early 1990. (I was *there* mannn, it was a totally different decade!) Still, the Martin Miller Session Band really get into this one, breaking the song down and building it back up again for a tremendous finish.
It may not be the “ultimate” ‘80s medley, but is *an* ‘80s medley and a damn good one too.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.